Category Archives: Papaver somniferum

Opium Poppies – Papaver somniferum – and other Free Spirits

I am often struck by the beauty of Opium poppies and their tendency to accidentally contrast perfectly with the surrounding plants. You can buy seed of particular varieties and freely direct sow around your borders, but we have always been lucky in that they turn up in our own compost year after year.

For example this gorgeous little lilac pom-poms arrived in our herb bed looking stunning against the climbing hop foliage and picking up the colour of the chive flowers:



In another area of the garden the red flowers look fab with the orange roses:




And in yet another area the pink looks stunning with the back drop bronze purple foliage of the Physocarpus


The leaves can look brown and tatty towards the end of the poppy’s flowering period but can easily be stripped off to leave the handsome, statuesque seed pods to dry out in the border and self seed for another year. Alternatively you can pull the whole plant up and hang it upside down in the shed or another dry place with a paper bag over the seed pods. This way the pods dry out and you can catch the seeds ready to freely direct sow next year.

Other self-seeders include Galega, in white or lilac:



Which don’t transfer very easily. We try to leave them where they arrive and they maybe last there for 2 or 3 years and then disappear and pop up somewhere else. (They sometimes require staking depending on where they are)

There is also the unruly but pretty everlasting sweet pea:



Which is, as it says, everlasting – coming up year after year. It can be easily propagated from seed and sown where you want it next time!